After Joseph *ran from Zuleikha’s boudoir* Zuleikha was aware she’d be in trouble should the true circumstances of Joseph’s flight become known to Potiphar and the others who served in the Pharaoh’s court. Since Joseph had fled without his clothes he would be sure to attract attention outside, and his version of what happened would come out. Zuleikha had to act fast.
She ran out of her boudoir and cried “Help, help!” loud enough for the other servants to hear and come to her aid.
“That Joseph” she said as the servants arrived, “You know what he’s just done? He barged into my boudoir and tried to violate me. We struggled, and his clothes came off. See them there? Then, realising he couldn’t have his way with me, he fled.”
As Zuleikha hoped, her version of what happened was the one that spread among the townspeople after the servants started spreading gossip about it. In next to no time Potiphar heard the story too. He hurried home to Zuleikha.
“Dearest Zuleikha, what a shock this must have been for you. Joseph didn’t seem the type. You can’t always tell a scroll by its cover, it seems.”
“It was a shock alright, such a shock that I may never fully recover. I do hope, Potty dear, that when Joseph is caught, you’ll have him killed right away. What he tried on me he’ll try on other wives too unless he’s killed.”
“From what you say, Joseph ought to be killed. It’s only fair, though, that he has the chance to give his version of what happened.”
“Are you impugning my truthfulness?”
“Not in so many words, dear Zuleikha. I am, however, not unaware that your behaviour towards Joseph when I’m not at home is often friendlier than is appropriate towards a servant, and that you spend an inordinate amount of time with him. Don’t look surprised. As the head of Pharaoh’s guard, I have informants everywhere. Also, as your husband, I know you’re a woman of great passion, and have far more of it than I’m able to satisfy. Put two and two together and you usually get four.”
“You’ve had a tiring day, Potty, which is why you’re saying all this. Let’s have an early night. I’ll make you forget everything you said. Our bed is waiting. Let’s get in it now Potty dearest. I’ll give you a night to remember.”
“Some other time, Zuleikha.”
Because Joseph was wearing no clothes when he fled Zuleikha’s boudoir, he was easily identified on the street as the man wanted for violating Zuleikha. He was arrested and put in jail. Potiphar, being the police chief (which he was, as head of the Pharaoh’s guard), he had free access to all prisoners. He went to see Joseph at the jail.
“Treating you alright, are they?” asked Potiphar.
“Given the circumstances, Master, I can’t complain.”
“Tell me what happened between you and Zuleikha.”
Whereupon Joseph told Potiphar substantially the same story as was outlined in the *previous posting*.
“I’ve no reason to disbelieve any of what you’ve just said”, said Potiphar when Joseph had finished. “While I do appreciate that you didn’t consummate the encounter out of loyalty to me, I wouldn’t have objected had you done so. You see, old chap, I’m no longer in love with Zuleikha. I have, in fact, a lady friend with whom I do the sorts of things a man normally does with his wife. This leaves Zuleikha out in the cold. So I don’t mind her doing the sorts of things with other men that a wife normally does with her husband. Can you follow all this?”
“Er, I think so.”
“The irony of your situation is that, had you known what I’ve just told you, you would have made love to Zuleikha as she asked, and all would have been fine, not only for you but for me too. I’ve found you of inestimable help as my head servant, and I’ll have great difficulty replacing you with a man as competent as you. However, because everyone now knows about you and Zuleikha, I can’t let you go free from jail. Were I to, I would be a joke in the eyes of everyone in the Pharaoh’s court. As head of the Pharaoh’s guard, I can’t afford this. You understand my position?”
“Here’s what I’ll do. Because I know how managerially competent you are, I’ll arrange that the governor of this jail make you a special status prisoner, whereby you’ll be in charge of all the prisoners and of all their work. You would be doing substantially the job of the governor, and so would be the governor in all but name. How’s that sound?”
“I’m indebted to you, Master. I’ll not disappoint you.”
Source: Genesis 39, 13 – 23